Trump pitches himself as 'crypto president' at San Francisco tech fundraiser

By Reuters   June 9, 2024 | 06:47 pm PT
Trump pitches himself as 'crypto president' at San Francisco tech fundraiser
Trump speaks to supporters in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. on June 9, 2024. Photo by AFP
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump presented himself as a champion for cryptocurrency and slammed Democrats' attempts to regulate the sector during a San Francisco fundraiser on Thursday, three sources present told Reuters.

Trump raised $12 million from the fundraiser hosted by tech venture capitalists David Sacks and Chamath Palihapitiya at Sacks' home in the swanky Pacific Heights neighborhood.

"He said he would be the crypto president," Trevor Traina, a San Francisco-based tech executive and former Trump ambassador to Austria, told Reuters.

The crypto industry is increasingly trying to influence U.S. politicians as it faces heightened scrutiny from regulators, especially since bankruptcies at major crypto firms in 2022 spooked investors, exposed fraud and misconduct, and left millions of investors out of pocket.

Trump touted crypto as important and stressed that he was very supportive of the sector, said Republican National Committeewoman Harmeet Dhillon.

Dhillon said Trump, who is running to unseat Democratic incumbent Joe Biden in a Nov. 5 election, did not offer specifics on his proposed crypto policy.

Biden signed an executive order in 2022 aimed at ensuring the responsible development of digital assets, which led to reports urging regulators such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to issue guidance and rules to address risks in the crypto ecosystem.

The White House under Biden has also said that it is eager to work with Congress to develop a regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies.

In a statement to Reuters, White House spokesperson Robyn Patterson said the Biden administration had supported innovation in digital assets while seeking to protect consumers from "risks associated with new technologies."

While San Francisco is heavily liberal, a growing number of high-profile local venture capitalists and crypto investors have thrown their support behind Trump, with several citing what they deemed excessive regulation among their reasons.

"President Trump made clear that the Biden-Gensler crusade against crypto will grind to a halt within one hour of a second Trump administration," said Jacob Helberg, an adviser to data analytics provider Palantir, referring to SEC Chair Gary Gensler.

Executives from crypto exchange Coinbase, crypto investor twins Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss and other crypto leaders attended on Thursday, Dhillon added.

A spokesperson for Gemini, the company founded by the Winklevoss twins, did not immediately comment.

Sacks and Palihapitiya have talked publicly about their investments in crypto, especially in bitcoin.

The founder of the now-bankrupt FTX cryptocurrency exchange, Sam Bankman-Fried, was found guilty last year of stealing from customers. Prosecutors allege he used those funds to donate more than $100 million to U.S. political campaigns.

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